SINGAPORE: A primary school teacher who headed extracurricular clubs sexually abused eight boys in his care and taught them sex acts, forcing them to perform the acts on him.
Before a police report was lodged, the former Head of Department left the country, absconding for 17 years before repeatedly returning under a false identity in what the prosecution called one of the worst cases of immigration offences.
The 56-year-old man, who cannot be named due to gag orders on him and the victims, was jailed for 10-and-a-half years on Friday (Sep 25). Of this, six months was in lieu of caning as he is above 50 and cannot be caned.
The judge said there was a significant abuse of trust and authority, with premeditated offences and sexual grooming involved, as well as psychological pressure and emotional blackmail.
The man pleaded guilty to one charge of carnal intercourse against the order of nature, three counts of molestation and one charge under the Immigration Act. Another 19 charges were taken into consideration.
The offences took place between 2001 and 2002, when the man was the Head of Department for a subject that was not named in court documents. He was also the teacher-in-charge of two unidentified clubs carrying out extracurricular activities for school pupils.
HE SINGLED OUT MALE PUPILS
As part of his role, he organised annual camps for some students, some of which were held overnight. During these camps, he would sexually assault some students while they were asleep or alone with him.
He also invited some pupils to his flat on Sunday mornings for free tuition, or to swim at a swimming complex. While in his house, he would ask one of the boys to go to the bedroom with him where he would force the boy to perform sex acts on him.
When he took the boys to the swimming complex, he sexually assaulted them by making them go into a shower cubicle with him and making them wash him or perform sex acts on him.
When some of them declined to comply with his instructions, he coaxed them into it – for example telling a boy who declined to join him for a shower after a swim that “it would not be fun like that”.
In November 2002, the victims and their friends were in their school canteen talking about the accused when they heard he had inappropriately touched a female student.
They told each other about the sexual abuse he had committed against them, and eventually decided to inform another teacher about the acts. The school management was alerted the next day, the principal later called the accused in to tell him about the complaints against him.
The principal said he would report the matter to the police and asked the accused to return to school the next day with his passport.
HE FLED COUNTRY BEFORE THE POLICE REPORT WAS FILED
The offender fled Singapore the next day on Nov 15, 2002, driving to Malaysia via Woodlands Checkpoint. He later flew to Indonesia, settling in a town there and assuming a fake identity.
With his false identity card, he obtained a passport and returned to Singapore with it 11 years later in 2013. Thereafter, he travelled to and from Singapore frequently to visit his family under the false identity.
In total, he used the passport bearing the fake identity to enter Singapore on 31 occasions.
On Aug 21 last year, the man went to a police centre in Woodlands to report that he had lost his NRIC. He wanted to obtain a replacement so he could withdraw his Central Provident Fund money.
The police officer who screened him realised that the offender was a wanted man and he was arrested.
The offender was assessed at the Institute of Mental Health and diagnosed with paedophilic disorder, with a high risk of sexual reoffending.
THE VICTIMS WERE HIGHLY VULNERABLE: PROSECUTOR
Deputy Public Prosecutor Chan Ying-Hong asked for 12 years and three months’ jail, inclusive of six months’ jail in lieu of caning.
The offender was a Head of Department and teacher in the school, with the victims entrusted to him in those capacities, she said.
The offences were also premeditated and targeted, giving the example of when the man targeted a boy as he mistakenly thought the boy was gay.
All the victims were primary school students aged between 10 and 12 and were highly vulnerable minors who did not understand the sexual exploitation, said Ms Chan.
Many of them did not know how to carry out the sex acts the accused asked for, and he taught them “against their will”. He also emotionally manipulated them, such as when he asked one of the boys not to be shy if he wanted to be the best student, the prosecutor said.
Ms Chan said the man’s immigration offences were carried out over numerous occasions in 17 years, in “one of the most egregious cases ever to come before the courts”.
Defence lawyer Sadhana Rai asked for less than nine years’ jail, saying that her client “did not reoffend” although he repeatedly returned to Singapore.
He is now married and has a child, so the “fear of recividism has not manifested”, she said.
District Judge Salina Ishak said that the offences in this case are serious and warrant a deterrent sentence.
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